Political Insider

A look behind the scenes in the political world

Human Rights Watch in Saudi Arabia: dumb, dumb dumb.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 I generally admire human rights watchdog groups, even if they sometimes show a little more enthusiasm in criticizing Israel than in criticizing its neighbors.  Human Rights Watch has always struck me as a useful group in a world overflowing with human rights disasters – contrary to the views of some pro-Israel groups, which regard any criticism of Israel as blasphemy.

Hate crimes bill introduced …. again. Will this be the year?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 Sen. Patrick Leahy (D- Vt.(), the Senate Judiciary chairman, has attached hate crimes legislation to the defense authorization bill. That’s good news for a bunch of Jewish groups, starting with the Anti-Defamation League, which have been pressing for the legislation – which would broaden existing federal hate crimes laws to include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability – for a decade.

Madoff joins Pollard at NC prison

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 The nation’s two most famous Jewish inmates are now sharing an address: FCI Butner. Bernie Madoff, sentenced in late June after pleading guilty to creating and operating a record-shattering Ponzi scheme that left some pensioners penniless and drove some Jewish charities to bankruptcy,  was transported on Monday to the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, NC – a medium security facility near Raleigh.

Israel, health care and gays in the militar

As Congress debates health care reform and frets about the special interests that want to make it a lot less than genuine reform, maybe it’s a good time for lawmakers to take a good look at how Israel delivers medical services.

Talking Points Memo’s Jo-Ann Mort does here.  While Mort is no fan of Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinians, she thinks its health care system has ours beat by a country mile.

Netanyahu and the 'self hating Jews' in Washington

You have to wonder about some of the members of Bibi Netanyahu’s government.

John Ensign's 'family values'

So Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) parents paid some  $96,000 to his mistress (see this Washington Post story).

It sure is nice to see family members helping each other out in times of crisis.

The Democrats not-so-super Senate majority

If I was Rabbi David Saperstein (and that's not likely; who has that much energy?), I'd be pleased as punch that Al Franken now has “Sen.” and “D-Minn.)  stuck on his name.  But I wouldn't be popping any champagne corks; the 60 vote super majority the Democrats gained in theory when Franken was finally sworn in this week will  be hard to mobilize in practice.

Obama administration a disappointment to military church-state leader

The leading activist in the fight to make the U.S. military live up to constitutional  church-state protections is glad the Pentagon has decided not to allow an Air Force “flyover” as part  the annual God and Country Festival in Nampa, Idaho – the first time military authorities have denied the sponsoring group’s request  in 42 years.

The Palin Factor and the Jews

The Sarah Palin political soap opera took its strangest twist on Friday when the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible 2012 presidential contender announced she was resigning as Alaska's governor before the end of her first term. What's the likely impact on Jewish politics?  It's hard to tell, although that won't stop wild speculation in political circles.

Minnesota Supremes Rule: Franken wins, Coleman's toast

A Caption Can Be ENtered Upon Selection of an ImageEight months after Minnesota voters went to the polls, the state is about to get a new senator. And it’s not the old one – Norm Coleman, the Republican whose last appeal of the razor-thin election was rejected by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday in a unanimous decision.

A lower court ruled that Democrat Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comic, won the election by 312 votes, but Coleman continued to argue that an additional 4000 absentee ballots should be counted.

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